Posted at: 02/25/2013 10:04 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Picking up a book can be a great escape from reality. But the sad reality is that, in New Mexico, illiteracy is a big problem.
That's why one 16-year-old girl is making it her mission to provide access to free books.
"You get to go to many different places. Let's go to Harry Potter, let's go to Hogwarts for a year," said Annika Cushnyr.
The teen says she loves to read. That's exactly where you can find her; among stacks of books.
"It gives you a sense of imagination," she said. Now with her own imagination, she's developed a plan to share her passion with countless others. Struck by the state's staggering literacy rate, Annika decided to create a Giving Library.
"Forty-six percent of New Mexico is functionally illiterate, which is quite a lot of the population and a lot of that is due to lack of access."
Annika is creating the Giving Library at the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center in Rio Rancho as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.
"A hospital seemed like a natural place to have it be because many people come and go and you're reaching a broad audience," Annika said.
Erica Hamilton is a registered nurse and the VP of Patient Services at the Medical Center. She says reading goes beyond imagination.
"There's a lot of research out there that shows there a large coloration between literacy and health outcomes."
So far, Annika has collected 500 books and plans to open the library in March. She says she wants to keep it stocked full, "As many as I can possibly fill."
Annika is still in need of a bookshelf and is looking for sponsors to keep the library up and running indefinitely.
You can find out more by visiting: startmylibrary.weebly.com